a black puppy playing with a police hat. The distributors of the poster had strong resistance from Muslim shopkeepers who refused to put the poster in their shop windows. Their argument is that the prophet Mohammed declared dogs (and especially black dogs like the one in the advert) to be impure animals that need to be killed. They feel that placing the postcard in their shop windows would be against the Quran (the holy book used by the Islam faith).
The response of the police force was to apologize for causing offence to Muslims. I found that strange, because surely the whole purpose of recognizing diversity cuts both ways? If Muslims want to have recognition for their unique beliefs and practices, surely they should also recognize the unique beliefs and practices of those around them? Is that not the point of recognizing diversity? I would not think that the solution is to apologize and withdraw the postcard. Would it not have been more appropriate to keep the postcard for those target audiences that can associate with it, and also have a separate postcard that Muslims can associate with?
I am not an expert on Islam, and decided to read up on this issue with dogs. From a website that discusses the issues the prophet Mohammed had with dogs (also in the Resources chapter), it appears that there are no statements in the Quran about dogs. The statements that Mohammed apparently made about dogs are quoted in Hadith (oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet).
It appears that Mohammed had a bad experience with a black dog, and as a result he expressed his dislike of dogs and especially black ones. This was then accepted as gospel along with the Quran because it was attributed to Mohammed.
If this is the case and Mohammed had a bad experience with sparrows, then sparrows would probably have been unclean animals in Islam.
It made me think of a story about a woman that always cut fish in half when she cooked for her family. One day she scolded her daughter for putting a whole fish in the saucepan, and her daughter challenged her. The woman said that her grandmother had always cut the fish in half, and that was the right thing to do. The daughter then questioned her grandmother about this habit, and the grandmother said 'I really cannot remember. Maybe the saucepan was too small?'
People do not think about what they are told to believe, especially when it comes to religion. They just accept it all at face value.
An Islamic scholar (also in the Resources chapter)in Canada gave guidelines on Muslims owning dogs. This is allowed, but clearly only where dogs are regarded as working animals, including working for the police. Even if the fact that the man is an Islamic scholar is taken out of the response, his advice makes complete sense in terms of pets and hygiene. This does not mean I dislike dogs. I actually like both dogs and cats - please don't send the RSPCA knocking at my door!
If the diversity people and the police had done their homework, they would have been able to educate first themselves and then also the Muslim shopkeepers about the real issue with dogs in Islam and about what the Quran really says (or in this case does not say) about dogs. They would then have been able to provide acceptable alternative postcards and also educate people about the health consequences of having dogs as pets. Instead they offered apologies for the wrong reasons and actually failed to acknowledge diversity.
I wondered: what else is being misinterpreted under the guise of Islam and the Quran, simply because people choose to believe every word that someone else says without questioning it?
And this believing without questioning is not unique to any particular faith. I have had people confront me because I believe in reincarnation. They told me I have to make my peace with Jesus who died for my sins (i.e. gave me a license to be reckless because he will take the consequences on my behalf and get me off the hook?) over two thousand years ago.
My question is: if reincarnation does not exist because it is not described in the Bible, where has Jesus been hiding for the past two thousand years? Where will he return from to come and 'save' me from my own actions?
God gave us minds to explore and gather information so that we can make our own decisions. Let's honor God and use our minds.
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